Review by Tatiana Miranda
The Great returns with its classic humor and historical inaccuracy with Season 3 of the acclaimed Hulu series. Created by the co-writer of The Favourite, The Great has a similar satirical look at European royalty and historical figures. The Great centers around Catherine the Great as she comes to reign Russia. The latest season opens as Catherine and her recently overthrown husband Peter III deal with the actions that occurred between them in the Season 2 finale.
After Catherine’s failed attempt to kill her husband at the end of the last season, the two must learn to reconcile and find a way to exist together peacefully. To do this, they begin a sort of couples therapy to work through their long list of issues. While they eventually come to terms with their situation, that doesn’t mean all of their problems are fixed. Instead, Catherine must deal with a possible uprising, raising her son, and separating friend from foe — all within Season 3.
Like the previous two seasons, a fair bit of the humor in Season 3 of The Great is situational. Even scenes that aren’t likely to be construed as funny, such as character deaths and sex scenes, have tinges of dark humor throughout. Compared to earlier seasons, though, Season 3’s storyline is more dramatic and darker as Catherine is put through more hardships than ever. While the show has always had its fair share of heartbreaking scenes, Season 3 struggles to balance its humorous and dramatic moments. Part of this is due to a shocking storyline choice that happens midway through the season that leaves both characters and viewers disoriented.
Although the performances are at their best this season, most of the characters — including the titular Catherine — don’t seem to be properly utilized. Other characters, such as Peter’s ex and Catherine’s assumed nemesis, Georgina, have some of the more interesting scenes and storylines this season. Georgina, following the same path she had in Season 2, is attempting to kiss up to Catherine. Her wild outbursts praising Catherine are perhaps some of the funniest scenes as this starkly contrasts her behavior from earlier in the show. Even characters in the show point out how confusing her change is, and it’s never quite clear whether her actions are genuine or not.
Peter III has also steadily become a fan favorite. Originally obnoxious and disinterested in Catherine and his position as King, he has grown to be a lovable goof who only wants to raise his son and make Catherine happy. While their relationship is extremely complicated, Catherine and Peter’s love story is one of the greatest turns the show could have taken, and it only gets more affecting as the show progresses.
Season 3 of The Great is by no means the best season of the show so far, as it has its flaws — namely its disjointed tone and odd storyline choices. Along with those, Catherine’s character has also become more unlikable as the show progresses, making it hard to root for her and her reign. With the season’s semi-ambiguous ending, there’s still hope that a future Season 4 will right some of Season 3’s wrongs.
The Great Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu. All ten episodes reviewed.